For kids, there’s nothing better than summer vacation: over two months away from school, unlimited TV time, and plenty of fun activities, most of which involve water and friends. But for parents, summer can also be a fearful time filled with serious hazards from drugs to alcohol, peer pressure, and too much screen time.
According to the American Automobile Association, most fatal car crashes over summer involve teens between 13 and 19 years. Though less dangerous, summer vacation also comes with risks of excessive weight gain due to poor food choices and inactivity, not to mention a mental decline due to a lack of reading.
For younger kids, there’s summer camp and playing with friends. But for millions of teens and tweens who exist in the no-mans-land that’s often too old for camp and too young for jobs, the two-plus months can feel like an eternity.
So, how’s an idle 12-15 year old supposed to spend those months without getting into trouble or unhealthy habits? We recommend inspired activities that will help them stay busy and also develop skills that will help them in school and in life. This is an age when the child is still finding themselves, their values and what they like. The best thing you can do is expose them to activities that help them to identify these things early on and have fun while at it.
Without further ado, let’s look at 9 summer activities for teens and tweens for those of us who live in Atlanta’s South Metro area.
1. Explore the visual arts at the Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation
If your teen loves art, the Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation is a great place to be. Besides promoting cultural arts and local artists, the center also provides art education to the citizens of the northeast Georgia area. They have regular events where you can go and experience art or meet artists, exhibitions, and short art courses your teen can take for a month or so.
From summer pottery camps to creative writing and painting camps, your kid will have their hands full. The courses are fun and affordable and they can take everything they do home.
2. Cool off at Spivey Splash Park
It’s not really summer without some water activities, and Spivey Splash Park is a one-stop shop for everything water-related and more. There are play activities for younger kids and plenty of things for your not-so-young child as well. From swimming lessons to tennis, hiking and biking, taking nature walks as you read a book, and even joining a youth sports league, teens will not want to leave here. The place is really big and can accomodate a lot of people, and there’s even a library for your book smart champ to hide and read. This is also a great place to hang out with friends and learn productive skills instead of just sitting at home playing video games or sulking.
3. Catch thrills at Six Flags Over Georgia
Teenhood is a time for fun, thrills and exploring. At Six Flags Over Georgia, you will get every opportunity to scream your lungs out in excitement, or should we say panic. They have normal park rides for the entire family, thrill rides for those of us who are a little daring, and kid’s rides for the little ones. And because it’s summer and it’s hot, they also have water rides where you can get your thrill and cool off at the same time.
If you just want to lay back, there are many entertaining shows to watch. Younger kids can go to the Looney Tunes Character meet and greet while teens have some laughs at the Comedy Wild West Show. This is not a place you can be every day, but it sure is fun for once-a-week trips.
4. Hiking, Yurts, & Camping at Sweetwater Creek State Park
Sweetwater Creek State Park is a peaceful, history-filled tract of wilderness where teens and tweens can explore the outdoors, hike, and learn their history. It is a wooden trail that follows the stream to the ruins of a textile manufacturing company that burnt down years ago and leads to beautiful rapids ahead. Park rangers lead very informative hikes down these trails as you watch the most beautiful flowers.
The George Sparks Reservoir is great for fishing, picnicking and feeding ducks, but they can also get some canoes or kayaks to explore the waterways with other paddlers.
5. Check out a smaller, family-run amusement park at Fun Spot America
Looking for a fun place where the kids can hang out on a weekend? The Fun Spot America in Atlanta is just right for the entire family but mostly older kids. It has all kinds of rides, from Ferris wheels to kiddie coasters and even the infamous screaming eagle coaster. Older kids can also enjoy some miniature golf, Go-karting and batting some baseball and softball. The park has also opened brand new video arcade games, and kids can practice skill games like air hockey, basketball and ICE ball. So instead of wasting their brains away at home, bring your teens here to learn competitive skills and have lots of fun while at it.
6. See a play or dance at the Legacy Theatre
As we said, teenagehood is a great time to explore talents and hobbies. Have you noticed your child loves performing arts like music, acting, comedy and so on? Like the Youth Life Center, Legacy Theatre is a place where that talent can be nurtured. It is a theatre like any other where you can watch movies, plays, and live dance performances, but they also offer specialized performing arts classes for different age groups. Like that’s not amazing enough, the theatre also has amazing structured summer activities for teens like music, acting, improv comedy, and so much more.
7. Explore Biblical History in LaGrange, GA
For history buffs, go a little further away and explore the Biblical History Center in LaGrange to experience the daily life of the ancient world. On the tour, you’ll experience authentic archaeological replicas, artifacts in the biblical life artifacts gallery, biblical meal presentations, and other magnificent experiences around the ancient Middle Eastern life. It’s like taking a tour to Jerusalem but closer to home.
While you are in LaGrange, take the time to also explore the robust collection of amazing restaurants and boutiques in the area. It’s a culture-rich environment with a lot to explore along with satisfying your inner foodie.
8. Get closer to nature at Cochran Mill Park
In a world where kids spend all their free time in front of screens, some good quality time with nature is invaluable. The Cochran Mill Park offers stunning waterfalls, wildflowers, boulders, mountain laurel, azaleas and the ruins of not one but three ruins of historic mills. It has 18 miles of multiple-use trails shared by hikers, horseback riders, runners and mountain bikers.
Since this is a vast area, visitors download the Cochran Mill Park app to get an interactive map of the trails and a tracker to show you exactly where you are, and the distance traveled. There is also an informational shop along those trails where you can stop over and learn some history. This is a great place to take your teen and expel some of that pent-up energy and frustration, plus spend some quality time together.
9. See the premiere of When You Dream presented by the Youth Life Center!
Of course, one of our favorite summer activities for teens is our summer musical! Join us for the premiere of our summer production, When You Dream, performed by our CampXpressions senior arts program students on July 29, 2022. Tickets are only $10 and support our programming for teens and tweens throughout the year.